In the mid 1970s, a young man named Sylvester had a dream of one day becoming a movie actor but couldn’t find a talent agency in New York City willing to take a chance on him. After being turned down by hundreds of agencies, he was so broke he couldn’t afford to pay the heating bill in his apartment. It got to the point where he couldn’t even buy food for his dog and was forced to sell him to a stranger for $25. Sylvester and his wife argued constantly about their lack of money, and she wanted him to give up his dream and get a job to pay the bills.
Two weeks after he sold his dog, Sylvester watched a boxing match between Muhammad Ali and “The White Hope” Chuck Wepner. For 15 rounds, Wepner battled the champ and took the best Ali could dish out but would not give up. Sylvester was so moved by Wepner’s display of passion to keep fighting that he began writing a movie script immediately after the fight.
He wrote continuously for 20 straight hours and finished the script in one sitting, or so the story goes. Over the next several weeks, he showed his boxing script to a number of movie producers but was rejected each time and told his script was sappy and too predictable.